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Centre voices inability to return more FC troops

May 08, 2013

PESHAWAR, May 7: The federal government on Tuesday expressed inability before the Peshawar high Court to deploy more Frontier Constabulary platoons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying 69 platoons serving in Karachi, Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan were specifically raised for those areas.

Senior joint secretary of interior ministry Akhtar Jan Wazir and assistant district officer of FC Sohaib Ashraf told a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mussarat Hilali that 45 of the platoons were deployed in Karachi, 18 in Islamabad and six in Gilgit-Baltistan.

They said the platoons for Sindh were raised in 1959 and the provincial government there had been meeting all their expenses.

They added that the platoons for Islamabad were raised during the government of former prime minister Shaukat Aziz for the federal capital.

The two officials said the court could direct the government to amend the Frontier Constabulary Act, 1915 to the extent that the said force should not be deployed outside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa following which it would be legally binding on the government not to deploy it in any other province.

They added that FC was a civil armed force under the command of the interior ministry and therefore, it could be deployed anywhere.

The bench fixed June 4 for next hearing of the case with the direction to the deputy attorney general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general to assist in interpreting the Frontier Constabulary Act, 1915 whether the FC platoons could be deployed outside the province and its frontier regions in other provinces except in extreme emergency situation.

The court was hearing a writ petition filed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government last year requesting the court to order re-deployment of FC platoons, which were posted in other parts of the country.

During the previous hearing on April 18, the court was told that the government had ordered re-deployment of 50 platoons of FC in the province.

Mr Sohaib Ashraf said they had obeyed the earlier order of the high court regarding redeployment. However, he added that they were not in a position to send more platoons to the province.

He produced a list showing deployment of FC platoons in different parts of the country.

According to the list, 136 platoons have been attached with Pakistan Army, 65 with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police and 39 with multinational companies.

The official said 206 platoons were in line and could be deployed in emergency situation.

The chief justice observed that this province had been bearing the brunt of terrorism and had been acting like a safety valve for the rest of the country. He observed that it was unwise on part of the government to keep this province prone to attacks.The bench observed that a few weeks ago, militants attacked one of the major grid stations in the province at Sheikh Mohammadi and had killed several persons and destroyed the station causing a loss of around 1.5 billion rupees to the exchequer. It was added that if FC was deployed there that incident would have been averted.

The chief justice observed that the FC was raised by the colonial rulers to act as a buffer between the settled and tribal areas, but now it had been deployed on VIP duties that had badly affected this fighting force.